SALT LAKE CITY Two great-great-great-grandsons of Brigham Young formally presented an heirloom rocking chair to the Mormon church Friday at a home where one of Young's many wives likely sat in it to soothe their children.
Brothers Bob and Skip Young say the chair has been cherished by their family, but they felt its historical value would be better appreciated by the church and the people of the city founded by their ancestor.
The Youngs are descendants of Lucy Decker Young, one of the wives of the church president who led members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Brigham Young had 27 wives, who bore him 56 children, according to a history on the Web site for Brigham Young University. A nonprofit genealogy Web site sponsored by the LDS church lists 38 wives.
Skip Young said he and his brother were reared as Episcopalians, but he remembers talking to his grandmother, Mildred Ferguson Young, about her "Book of Mormon" and they were always aware of their relationship to the man Mormons consider a prophet.
The Young brothers' father, Fergus Ferguson Young, had the chair carefully restored in the late 1960s. It had been covered in fabric, hiding the original cane seat and back.
The chair was given to Skip Young by his grandmother. He said the chair is one of the few possessions he has repeatedly taken with him when he's been forced to evacuate his Hilton Head, S.C., home under threat of hurricane.
Skip said it was after he evacuated with the chair for the third time that he told his brother: "You take the chair and enjoy it and then let's do the right thing."
"It's history to us but its greater history is to the Mormon church and the people of Salt Lake City," Skip Young said.
The brothers delivered the chair to the church about two years ago, said Bob Young, who is the former mayor of Augusta, Ga., and now the regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Atlanta.
Scheduling problems delayed the presentation ceremony until Friday, he said. His family has also donated a tablecloth and mustard dish to the church.
"I'm going to see if it's on the table," Bob Young said.
The brothers were taken on a tour of the Beehive and Lion houses, Brigham Young's homes that are now museums located near the church headquarters.
"Parting with a family heirloom is a very generous gift on your part," said Marlin K. Jensen, church historian.
The chair will be kept in the Beehive or Lion houses where it was most likely used by Lucy Decker Young, he said. Lucy Decker and Brigham Young had seven children, including the Young brothers' ancestor, Ernest Irving Young.
The Young brothers were presented with a book about Brigham Young and files containing their family history compiled by a church employee.
The chair is a bentwood-style rocker, recognizable by armrests that curve into a spiral connecting with the seat of the chair, said Richard Oman of the church's historical department.
Oman said the style was popular from 1840-1890 and the chair in question probably dated to the 1870s.
On the Net: The Beehive House: www.lds.org/placestovisit/location/0,10634,1863-1-1-1,00.html